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Investor Relations Executive Who Profited From Illegal Insider Trading Scheme Sentenced To 20 Months In Federal Prison

March 26, 2012

LOS ANGELES – The former owner of the Beverly Hills investor relations firm Nexus Investor Relations, Ahmad “Zack” Noory, 37, has been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison for secretly making stock trades based on inside information over a period of nearly five years - trades that generated more than $400,000 in illegal profits. 

Noory, of Ladera Ranch, California, was sentenced Monday by United States District Judge John F. Walter.  Noory was one of five defendants charged in March 2010 with carrying out an illegal insider trading scheme based on information from a source at the investor relations firm.  According to prosecutors, as part of that scheme, co-defendant Ahmad Haris Tajyar paid $30,000 in cash bribes to co-defendant Zachary Bryant, who was an executive at the prominent investor relations firm Lippert Heilshorn.  In exchange for those bribes, Bryant regularly gave Tajyar information about upcoming press releases for Lippert Heilshorn’s publicly-traded clients before they had been announced to the public. 

According to the prosecutors, Tajyar in turn gave inside information about these companies to Noory, co-defendant Omar Tajyar, 32, of Porter Ranch, and Vispi Shroff, 58, of Canyon Country, each of whom traded in advance of the press releases.  Noory pled guilty in 2011 to participating in this scheme, admitting from 2004 through 2007 he made more than $100,000 in illegal profits from trades in advance of the press releases.  Bryant also pled guilty to his role in this scheme and was sentenced in April 2011 by Judge Walter to sixteen months in federal prison.  Shroff pled guilty in 2010 and was sentenced in March 2011 by Judge Walter to nine months in federal prison.

In connection with his plea, Noory also admitted that he participated in a later scheme to profit from information that was stolen from Lippert Heilshorn’s email system.  At the previous sentencing hearing for co-defendant Bryant, prosecutors explained that Bryant provided Omar Tajyar with the password that Lippert’s employees used to remotely access their email accounts at the firm.  Omar Tajyar then used that password to secretly access the email accounts of various Lippert Heilshorn employees to obtain information about upcoming press releases which had not yet been announced to the public.  Omar Tajyar shared this stolen information on a regular basis with Noory, who used the information to make stock trades in 2008 and 2009 that generated more than $300,000 in illegal profits.

At the Noory sentencing hearing, prosecutors emphasized that Noory actively and enthusiastically participated in both illegal insider trading schemes, noting that Noory had used his brokerage accounts of his friends and family members to expand his ability to profit from the inside information as well as to conceal his actions from the government.  Prosecutors also noted that Noory continued to trade based on information stolen from Lippert Heilshorn’s email system even after Noory knew that the government was investigating his insider trading activities.

In imposing sentence, Judge Walter noted that insider trading is “a sophisticated financial crime that is extremely hard to detect” and that it is typically the most “wealthy and prominent individuals” who have access to such information and are able to profit from it.  Judge Walter rejected Noory’s claim that there was little or no harm from insider trading, responding that this crime is “a cloud on the integrity of the markets,” and that “the field will never be level unless this kind of fraud is eliminated from the market.”   Judge Walter concluded that Noory “fits the profile of the classic advantaged individual who was able to profit from making numerous insider trades.”

Criminal charges against Ahmad Haris Tajyar and Omar Tajyar are still pending in United States District Court.

The investigations of the insider trading conspiracies in this case were conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Release No. 12-040

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